pass the popsicle: a tonsillectomy story.

I’m going to start off with a warning. If you, dear Reader, are considering getting your tonsils removed. Reconsider. I arrived at my decision after an adulthood of constant tonsillitis, strep throat and sinus infections. Each bout requiring days, even weeks of time off work, multiple rounds of antibiotics and general unpleasantness. Just this past November, I spent an entire week consuming nothing but ice cream and soup due to my good friend, Strep. Strep is a dick. Having read and been told that recovering from a tonsillectomy as an adult is no picnic, I thought I understood that it would be rocky, but ultimately worth the week of recovery. Basically just another bad round of Strep, but the LAST round I’d ever experience. Right? Wrong.

Side note: the procedure, Tonsillectomy & Adnoidectomy is also referred to as a T&A. I giggle.

There is a fairly hilarious online community of fellow sufferers who also took the T&A plunge past the ripe age of five. At five, your mom gives you a popsicle and forces you to not play outside for a few days. At thirty, each day of recovery brings new waves of torture. Being able to commiserate with my fellow T&A warriors online this past week, has been comforting. Not in any way, shape or form, comfortable. I’m sitting here, Day 8, an ice pack tucked under my chin, high on Oxy, with lukewarm tea balancing on the couch next to me. Those things make me, also not comfortable, but in marginally less agony. I’d go to sleep, but the moment I stop irrigating my throat, it dries out, bringing on a death rictus to my ears, neck and throat.

The T&A procedure itself, is fairly straightforward. Show up at the surgical center. Answer at least ten times when was the last time you’ve eaten. Answer it again. Get hooked up to the fun juice. Lights out. An hour or so later, wake up with a kind lady handing you ginger ale. Cry. Because you do. Then get driven home to begin!

Each Day is mapped out: what varietal of pain to expect, when the swelling is going to be so bad as to require steroids, bleeding, what the scabs are doing. For some reason, I was under the assumption that I could condense this timeline down to under a week. But no, I’m not special. Days 1-3 were basically a 5 on the pain scale. Sleep, take Oxy, drink water, repeat. Night 3, however, the new fun of waking up with a swollen tree trunk for a neck began. Swollen like not being able to swallow or breathe. Hence, the addition of steroids to the regimen for Days 3-5. Days 4-5 otherwise were quite a breeze. Pain level around a 3 as long as I took the meds every four hours. Day 6, as promised, was the beginning of a brand new level of bad. Because, Days 6-9 the pain ratchets up to levels not helped by pain meds or ice packs or ice chips. Oh yes, and you’re choking on and coughing up scabs nonstop.

Introducing the Scabs. If you are eating, I suggest you stop. On Day 1, I took my iPhone flashlight and took a look in my throat to see the aftermath of the T&A. The battlefield was grim. After your surgeon slices off the goods, they cauterize what looks like the entire back of your throat, leaving behind white, fluffy cauliflower-looking scabs. If you’re a good little patient and avoid anything that that will pull those suckers off prematurely, you can avoid excessive bleeding and a trip to the ER. However, they do need to come off eventually. And it’s gross. Night 7 ranks in the top five worst nights of my life. No sleep, spent hunched over a sink coughing up bits of flesh. Yep.

Right now I’m predicting a return to normalcy by Day 10. Or something like normal. Thus far, I’ve lost five pounds on the popsicle and cracker diet. I’d kill to be able to eat a burger right now. In fact, on Day 1, I started requesting french fries right out of the gate. Any food I have managed to eat, Mom had to come out and prepare for me. Standing is not really a thing I can do at the moment. My skin is sallow and slightly bruised. My voice is still just a squeak. Only managed to take two showers this week. Basically, I’m ragged.

I definitely would not recommend anyone do this unless they have a reliable support system. Thankfully, my parents have been able to bring me ice and cook me two pancakes when I needed it. Also, Sara sent me some badass boutique ice cream through FedEx. Be prepared to set aside at least 10 days to recover. Not absolute bed rest, but pretty close. Even the small things are difficult. I dropped and broke a plate trying to crush up some pain meds in order to force them down. The plate stayed shattered where it fell until the cavalry arrived the next day. This will be the last sore throat I ever have, but man is it a doozy. Pass me another popsicle.

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my biracial hair: struggle & acceptance

Three weeks ago, I got snowed in without access to my blowdryer and flatiron. My usual routine is to wash, blow-dry and straighten my hair on Sundays, then let it go all week. I was looking at a week without a plan. This wasn’t a DEFCON 5 situation, but it did pose a dilemma for me. Pull my hair back in a bun all week or risk a drive through the storm to purchase some products to go curly.

Here’s the thing about the bun. I styled my hair in a bun at the back of my head every day from the time I was about ten until I was in college. I simply did not know how to manage my natural curls. Thought they were too wild. In high school, I started to get my hair chemically relaxed, but continued with the bun. One, ceramic flat irons weren’t a thing yet. Two, I still did not know what was required to tame the curls, even in this new looser state. The thought of returning to The Bun, even for just a week, felt stifling. Like I would be reverting to a pre-confident, pre-formed me.

Growing up biracial posed a few challenges. Which boxes to check on forms. Questions about being the neighbor’s kid while out at family dinner. Realizing that I have a “tan” year-round while my family remained noticeably pale. But, by far, the hardest thing to deal with was my hair. I have thick, tight curls. A lot of them. Like, lose a brush in them. My parents, possessing straight hair that generally does what they want it to do without a whole bunch of effort, did not know what to do with my mane.

In a recently rediscovered photo of me around age nine, I am sitting on a bed in a t-shirt which looks like it was signed by classmates I now cannot recall, caught unawares by Mom.  The best part about this photo is the epic rat’s nest on my head. My hair is totally wild, completely natural. Likely slept on. Maybe hiding a comb or two. That was me, at home and one hundred percent comfortable with my hair, however it wanted to be. Before I hit middle school, before I became aware of beauty norms, before I heard the sniggering of classmates, this was my state.

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See the girl in her natural habitat. This girl must be near shedding her summer coat to prepare for upcoming winter. 

I have a few very distinct memories from growing up which circle around the theme that my hair was different. Mom taking a lock of her hair, folding it on itself and then pushing down the bubble. Watching in fascination as her friend, Jen, ran her hand through her long, silky hair. Leaving a spiderweb-like net cascading down from her crown. Going to a regular salon and leaving looking silly, going to a black salon and leaving unnecessarily greasy. The other girls at cheerleading camp French braiding each other’s hair, but leaving mine because it was too difficult to work with. I remember thinking that I would never be able to run my hands through my hair like that and feeling distinctly left out because no one knew what to do with my thick, crazy hair.

My hair made me feel a bit like an outsider. Even ugly, sometimes. I thought that curly hair was beautiful. On other people.  I thought that on me, it just looked unkempt. And so, I spent a decade obsessively pulling it back, hiding it, trying to forget everything it wouldn’t do for me. When I got my first flat iron in college, it was a chance to express myself with my hair. I learned to love my hair long and straight and touchable and soft. I then spent years obsessively straightening it, thinking that my beauty came from my long locks. With adulthood, I’ve learned that my hair can be short or long or straight or curly. Whatever I damn well please. However, it wasn’t until very recently, that I felt radiant with my natural, wild curls.

I never thought of my hair as black or white, just as a uniquely frustrating brand of thick and curly. I never derived racial identity from my hair, but I will admit to believing for a long time that “white” (read: straight) hair was the only kind worthwhile. I wish I’d seen women like Shakira from a young age. Now that is a wild-haired, badass, sexy woman. I probably would have come to the conclusion much sooner that beauty comes in many forms. Would have learned that my own hair is actually pretty malleable, I can go curly or straight at will, depending how I feel on a given day.

Every time I see a young woman struggling with their hair, I want to pull them aside and give them a pep talk. Or at least take them to Target and point out my go-to products. I’ve seen progress, but still think that the media could have more biracial, curly-haired women to serve as role models to an increasingly diverse young generation. I wish there had been other little biracial girls I could have talked to about the struggle. The Struggle is Real AF. But it gets easier. If I ever have a girl, she’s going to love her hair, no matter what kind of craziness it’s doing.

 

frozen pipes.

Shout out to all the other homeowners out there who also woke up to frozen pipes this morning. Hopefully they didn’t burst, flood your house with freezing water, destroying everything in their icy wake. Speaking from experience, that is The Worst. Actually, no. The Worst is when you walk downstairs on the morning of your first day at a new job to discover sewage water has flooded your living room. Go to work, or stay and deal with the poo-water? I believe that decision is about as adult as it gets.

Turns out, tree roots had grown through my main sewage line, blocking waste water from leaving my house. The first time the poo-water flood situation happened, I’d owned the house for three months. Yes, there was a second time. Happened again about a year ago. In between those two incidents, my pipes froze and burst in the night. Roth Rooter and I are besties now. I also know the best companies in the Northern Virginia region for water damage restoration. Shout out to Jenkins.

There was also that time when a raccoon and some squirrels were having an all-out death match in my attic as I was sleeping. Fang and I moved downstairs to the couch for the night to avoid the sounds of squirrel screams. I have audio recording. It is extremely creepy. Side note, ever try getting a roof replaced in the middle of winter? More difficult than you’d think. What really got me about the whole survival-of-the-fittest attic situation? I’d had a critter control guy over to check out my roof and attic when I heard the distinct sounds of chewing and chittering above my head every night for weeks. Critter Dude told me there was “no evidence” of any woodland creatures in my attic. Critter Dude was wrong.

Growing up, I watched my parents do battle with their home and thought they were just particularly prone to remodeling accidents and bad luck with things breaking down. Now I understand that is just the nature of owning a home. While trimming a tree, you may drop a branch on and destroy the pool. Or, you may accidentally take down a load-bearing wall. You know, shit happens. With my own house, the ridiculous issues that come up on such a regular basis makes me wish I had my own personal handy man. Or a magic wand. Reparo.

Even with all the hassle, I will say that I lovmy home. Coming back after a month living in a hotel, my house is so… me. Plenty of space to move around. My own bed, couch, towels. My pillows and coffee maker. My artwork. I’m not thrilled that I can’t take a shower until my pipes thaw, but it is a small price to pay for my own little slice of comfort. I raise my coffee cup to you folks out there dealing with whatever small home emergency has cropped up with the dawn. *Sip*